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If you're feeding your dog dry dog food, one of the best things you can do is add fresh foods to your dog's kibble. But how?
These two step-by-step guides from canine nutritionists and Dogly Nutrition Advocates here in the Improving Kibble Channel will tell you all you need to know to easily start adding fresh foods into your dog's diet. We'll go through an overview of each guide below, but you can jump to either of them here if you want to get started immediately:
- Guide 1: Basic steps to improve your dog's food by adding fresh food
- Guide 2: Detailed ways to improve dry dog food with superfoods
Before we get into each guide though, why is it even necessary to supplement your dog's dry food with fresh food?
Dry dog food is highly processed and often lacks nutrients dogs need. By adding fresh foods like green leafy vegetables or raw eggs to your dog's diet, you can help improve your pup's overall health and well-being.
In addition, many commercial dog foods contain fillers and preservatives that can be harmful to your dog's health. By supplementing his or her diet with fresh foods, you can help reduce the amount of these harmful substances your dog is exposed to.
Your dog's kibble also lacks moisture, so getting in the habit of rehydrating your dog's food with bone broth or raw goat's milk is a great way to improve the quality of your pup's diet and add many health benefits to your dog's meal with each bowl.
Now that we've gone over some of the reasons why you should supplement your dog's diet with fresh food, let's get into each guide.
Enhancing Your Dog's Food, Guide 1: Basic steps to improve your dog's food by adding fresh food
Studies show swapping out just 20% of your dog's dry food for fresh food reduces disease and illness significantly in dogs. This is hugely beneficial for your dog's health and why canine nutritionist and Dogly Nutrition Advocate Brittany Evans goes into the basics of how to add fresh food to your dog's dry food in the full guide here.
While it might seem daunting to add fresh food to your dog's diet, this step-by-step guide breaks down the basics into 5 easy steps to help get you started. The full guide goes through each step in detail but here's a quick overview:
Step 1: Hydrate your dog's food
Overview: The best dry food is hydrated dry food! When your dog eats dry food it can put a strain on his/her digestive tract. An easy fix for this is by simply adding fresh water to your pup's kibble and letting the kibble soak in warm water for a couple of minutes before feeding it to your dog.
If you can, adding liquids like raw goat's milk or bone broth to your dog's food gives your dog more nutrients than just plain water and provides more health benefits to your dog.
The full guide covers why raw goat's milk and bone broth are so beneficial for dogs as well as how and which to feed. If you're worried about dry dog food not cleaning your dog's teeth anymore if you wet it, don't be. That's a myth.
Step 2: Take just 20% of your dog's regular food out and substitute with fresh foods in your dog's bowl
Overview: Starting with just swapping 20% of dry dog food for fresh food is recommended because you don’t have to worry about nutrient balance if you're only replacing 20% of kibble with fresh food.
If you want to replace more than 20% of your dog's dry food with fresh food, then working with a canine nutritionist to create a fresh food diet is recommended so your dog still gets all the nutrients and balanced diet he or she needs.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to what kinds of fresh foods you can add to your dog's diet. The full guide goes through some of the most popular fresh food options for dogs as well as which ones to avoid. The next steps go into detail on adding specific fresh food to your dog's meals.
Step 3: Add eggs to your dog's food for "the perfect protein"
Overview: Often called "the perfect protein," an egg is a great source of animal protein perfectly balanced with the essential amino acids, healthy fats, and nutrients your dog's body needs. Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and very easy to add to your dog's regular food.
The full guide goes into which type and how to feed eggs to your dog, but whether the egg is raw, scrambled, or hard boiled, the nutritional profile stays the same, so you can get started adding an egg to your dog's bowl however you are most comfortable. The guide also teaches you how and why to feed the egg shell to your dog for joint health. I highly recommend your checking it out.
Step 4: Add fish to your dog's food to improve your dog's skin and coat
Overview: Kibble from pet food companies is high in omega 6 fatty acids and low in omega 3 fatty acids making it really inflammatory. By adding fish to your dog's dry diet, you will increase omega 3 fatty acids in your dog's regular food and therefore, decrease inflammation. In other words, improve your dog's skin and coat.
The full guide explains which and how much fish to feed to your dog, but in general, canned sardines in water are the easiest to add to your dog's food. Go to the full guide to see the recommended serving size of canned sardines for your dog and other ideas on adding fish to your dog's diet.
Step 5: Add fresh veggies and fresh fruit to your dog's food
Overview: Just as it is with people, adding fresh vegetables and fruit to your dog's diet is extremely nutritious and provides a host of health benefits. Veggies and fruit are low calorie foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
The full guide gives you an idea of which vegetables and fruits are best for dogs. I recommend steaming or roasting fresh veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli, and cabbage before adding them to your dog's food. You can also feed most fruits raw with the exception of grapes and raisins which are toxic to dogs.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to improve your dog's food with fresh food, let's take your dog nutrition knowledge up a notch and get into more detailed guidance in the next step-by-step guide.
Enhancing Your Dog's Food Guide 2: Detailed ways to improve your dog's food with superfoods
Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that offer a wide range of health benefits for dogs. When added to your dog's total diet, they can help boost immunity, improve gut health, and increase energy levels.
As you learned in the previous guide, replacing just 20% of your dog's food with fresh food can have big health benefits for your dog. This guide goes a step further and takes a more detailed view on three superfoods to add to your dog's diet and how much of each to feed for healthier eating. A quick overview is below or you can jump to the full guide here.
Superfood 1: Cooked or raw meat
Overview: Each type of meat has different nutrients and provides a different eating experience for your dog, so adding variety to your dog's meals is key. Start with one type of protein a week at a time to make sure your dog doesn’t have any sensitivities to that protein. Remember, the most common food sensitivities in dogs are chicken and beef so by adding one protein at a time you'll be able to tell if any new foods are causing allergic reactions in your dog.
Jump to the full guide to get into more detail about handling, preparing, and serving raw meat and bones for your dog. There's also a very helpful tip on how to read grocery store meat labels.
Super food 2: Fresh vegetables
Overview: As you learned in the previous guide, fresh veggies and fruit are low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods that offer a host of health benefits for dogs. When adding fresh veggies to your dog's diet, start with one veggie at a time and slowly increase the amount you're feeding as tolerated.
The full guide goes into more detail about which vegetables are best for dogs and how to prepare them but as a quick overview, you'll want to stick to low glycemic vegetables that aren't going to cause a high spike in blood sugar levels for your dog like green leafy vegetables and yellow orange vegetables. Jump to the full guide here to see the full list of vegetables and their benefits for your dog.
Superfood 3: Fresh fruit
Overview: Just as with vegetables, fresh fruit adds beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to bring amazing benefits to your dog's health. Also like vegetables, low glycemic fruits are what you want to be sure to feed to your dog so you're not adding a lot of sugar to your dog's diet.
Jump to the full guide to see the list of recommended fruit to add to your dog's diet and why each is beneficial for your dog.
Check out the Improving Kibble Channel on Dogly
To keep expanding your nutritional knowledge for your dog, continue on in the Improving Kibble Channel to the step-by-step guides from canine nutritionists in Food Guidance. You'll learn how to select the right dog food for your dog, how to check the nutritional value of your dog's food, and recommended freeze-dried/dehydrated and kibble dog foods from a canine nutritionist.
If you have any questions, you can also ask them in the Improving Kibble Channel in the Community discussion.
Or, if you ever need more personalized help, we would be happy to help you find the right Dogly Nutrition Advocate who would be best to help you and your dog through Dogly.